Pre-colonial Gold Mining and Metallurgy in Southern Africa


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




This study focuses on pre-colonial gold mining and metallurgy in southern Zimbabwe because of this area relevant to the Iron Age archaeology of southern Africa at large. Key issues to be explored include the antiquity, technology and consumption/distribution of pre-colonial gold in the region. Existing but untested wisdom on this subject comes from research undertaken at regional elite centres that occur outside the gold rich areas. The present study also begins with a systematic study of gold production at the World Heritage site of Great Zimbabwe (this is already on-going) before broadening the area to include the gold-rich Mzingwani catchment area. The latter is home to both pre-colonial and on-going alluvial gold mining. As a critical trade commodity of the pre-colonial period, gold metallurgy is central to Iron Age studies related to the rise of social complexity, long-distance trade and craft technologies in this region.